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An Employer’s Guide to Homeworking

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As coronavirus cases in the UK continue to rise, asking employees to work from home is one obvious measure you can take to try and protect your workplace and your employees.

Homeworking, if the nature of your operation allows, will enable you to stay open for business while doing your bit to contain the spread of Covid-19.

But, in practical terms, what will working from home mean for you and your employees? Is it sustainable, secure and cost-effective and how do you go about implementing it?

Scope the work done at home

One of the first rules of successful homeworking is making sure you scope the workload. That way, staff know exactly which tasks they need to prioritise, and how much work they’ll be expected to complete in a given time frame.

Consider using the SMART criteria of Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant and Time-bound when setting objectives.  You may well already do this in your business but using these five goals as a guide will be especially helpful in forward planning when staff are working remotely.

HR:4UK has a comprehensive homeworking policy which can be written into your employee handbook. It sets out conditions, such as employees identifying and letting you know of any new pressures created by working from home.

Maintain regular contact with homeworkers

Depending on your industry sector, some of your employees might already work from home, either occasionally when assigned to certain projects, or regularly as part of their employment contract. For others, however, not having to physically come into work will be a completely alien experience so they’ll need your guidance and support.

To adapt to a completely new way of working, it’s essential staff are able to maintain regular contact with line managers and colleagues.

Thankfully, great communication links and good connectivity means most of us are able to stay in touch remotely, so it’s easy to check in with each other.

Skype for Business is straight forward to set up and use, and for video conferencing there are a number of convenient, cost-effective options, including Zoom and Google Hangouts (free until 1 July 2020).  You could also of course, arrange regular telephone conference calls.

Keep your business information safe and secure

Whatever sector you’re in, keeping your precious data safe and secure is a top priority.

Employees might well need to access sensitive information in order to do their jobs, so their home IT systems must be up to the task.

Do you know, for example, if staff have antivirus software and firewalls on their home pcs and if their home router is secure?  Do they install updates regularly and is the data held on their devices backed up?

Using a VPN (Virtual Private Network) will ensure secure connections to other networks, encrypting online traffic so data is protected and can’t be read if it falls into the wrong hands. There are also other vital security steps your employees will need to take, such as password-locking their devices.

These are all issues that must be addressed before staff start working remotely, so talk to your IT department or IT consultant for advice.

The future of homeworking

Well before the pandemic, working remotely was already becoming more common as people looked at ways of reducing their carbon footprint.

As we all know, the daily commute can be stressful, time-consuming and polluting, so removing the need for it is kinder to the planet and can make economic sense.

Over the next few months, employers who hadn’t previously considered remote working will be using this option for the first time. And, if it works well for them and their employees, it may well become normal practice.

Download our FREE Homeworking Policy

To help businesses prepare for any self-isolating employees, we are offering a free homeworking policy which is available to download from here.

At HR:4UK we have wide experience of advising businesses of all sizes and sectors on implementing a safe, practical and workable homeworking policy so please contact us if you need any help.

Angela Clay

A qualified employment law solicitor and our managing director, Angela has unparalleled legal expertise and decades of experience and knowledge to draw from. She’s a passionate speaker and writer that loves to keep employers updated with upcoming changes to legislation, and is a regular guest speaker on BBC Leicester Radio.